Review: Pizzeria Pellone, Croydon

Croydon’s overrun with all-day fast food joints – and most of it seems to end up in my hedge in various stages of digestion. But Pizzeria Pellone, on Croydon High Street, cooks up lip-smacking, belt-busting pizzas that are simply too good to waste.

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It’s not that there’s anything wrong with fast food, or eating out of paper in a bus shelter – but you’ve got to hand it to Naples, which raised fast food – as with tailoring, coffee drinking and vicious gang warfare – into an art form. Dean Martin never crooned about chicken wings or meat-in-a-box with good reason – a pizza done properly is a thing of beauty. So an authentic Neapolitan pizza parlour in Croydon seemed too promising a development to pass by. Its pedigree can be testified to in the passport of the owner, the grandson of an Antonio Pellone, who set up a pizzeria in Naples in 1972, which is still running, and an older sister restaurant in Herne Hill.

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Sips of the best: Six Waterloo pubs worth missing your train for

If you spend any time at all using South West Trains, you’re going to be stranded at Waterloo station in desperate need of alcohol. In fact, the trains are so bad and the station so overcrowded, you could be forgiven for having a pint at the beginning of your morning commute. Unhappily, all the pubs within the precincts of the station itself are diabolical. But here are six pubs to wet your whistle at when you’ve just missed the 18.20 to Woking – just be warned, you may end up missing the 22.20 too.

Hole in the Wall

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Mepham Street is a malodorous, one-way thoroughfare linking Waterloo Road to York Road, constipated with 521 buses, their drivers on fag breaks and wrinkle-nosed tourists who’ve been round the Imax underpass fifteen times. Its centrepiece, the Hole in the Wall pub, is bedraggled, discoloured and rattles like a loose, rotten tooth in the arches of one of the busiest railway bridges in London. But it’s also an institution.

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Review: St James of Bermondsey SE16

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Bermondsey was once known as Biscuit Town, due to the Peek Freans biscuit factory in the area, where the Garibaldi, the Bourbon and the Twiglet were invented. A pink wafer’s width away from the derelict site is St James of Bermondsey, a craft beer pub now puffing out its own sweet aroma of pies and beer. It sports a brown, pin-backed bar and a good selection of locally brewed ales from the cluster of breweries under the railway bridge. A grassless courtyard, spruced up with mirrors and pot plants, is overlooked by gantries, brick towers and the bridge, and shudders to the sound of cars, trains and guttural cries, but it still manages to feel like a retreat. Trees, peace and quiet are out of place in a London beer garden anyway. Pies by Pieminister and dog/child-friendly, with nearby Southwark Brewery’s LPA at £4.50 a pint.

St James of Bermondsey
72 St James’s Rd SE16 4QZ

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Review: The Gregorian Arms SE16

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Recently hipsterified mock-Tudor barn confronting dragon-steepled landmark St James’ Church. This pub has a big open-plan interior cluttered with pinned butterflies, horned skulls, glass-fronted bookcases and portraits of creepy dead Victorians, like that bloke out of The Silence of the Lambs. The mismatched furniture and Hawaiian soundtrack will inevitably lead most to the conclusion that it’s owned by Antic, but not the drunken workmen I was sitting by who humorously insisted on using the busy ladies because it was nearest. Around the back of the bar is a comfy Alpine-themed area with floral pictures, mountain scenes and a petting couple. Staff aimed to please, with Butcombe at £3.50 a pint. When I turned up for a second review, it was shut at lunchtime, more’s the pity.

The Gregorian Arms
96 Jamaica Rd SE16 4SQ

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Sips of the best: Six fascinating pubs and bars near Bermondsey tube station

Welcome to the booziest, beeriest borough in South London – Beermondsey. I mean, Bermondsey. The Maltby Street market pumps out Little Bird gin and hot toddies to the Borough Market overspill and beer hounds drink the breweries and bottle shops of the Bermondsey Beer Mile dry. Here are six pubs worth checking out away from the hop-spots of Bermondsey Street and Borough High Street…

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Croydon Craft Beer Festival 2: The Revenge

Photo 19-03-2016, 16 31 43Most sequels aren’t a patch on the original (Jaws 2, Robocop 2 anybody?), but organisers of the second Croydon craft beer festival (18–20 March) provided beer lovers with plenty of kegs appeal at a foam-flecked, hoppy-go-lucky celebration of good ale in the heart of Croydon. A crowd-pleasing sequel more akin to The Godfather: Part II then, or maybe Craft Beer Festival 2: Electric Booze-aloo.

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Organisers had ironed out the problems that arose at the inaugural event in October last year, most notably a shortage of beer on the Saturday, and challenged thirsty punters to drink them dry. When we rolled up at Saturday lunchtime at Braithwaite Hall, drinkers had clearly risen to the challenge and a few of the casks had sold out, but there was still plenty of booze to be consumed, rounds to be bought, stories to be told and, eventually, friends to be spectacularly insulted. Continue Reading

Review: The Quality Chop House, Farringdon EC1

Victorian working men’s dining room since 1869, now shovelling out imperiously brilliant meals to modern-day navvies who’ve had a hard day at the Powerpoint coalface

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Now a restaurant, a wine bar, a butchers and a food shop, the Quality Chop House opened in 1869, the same year that John Sainsbury and his wife opened a greengrocer in Drury Lane, 1.5 miles away, selling ‘the best butter in London’. Sainsbury’s still sells slightly salted Lurpak, but I’d put in a word for The Quality Chop House, with its butter made of Jersey milk, raw and unpasteurised, and churned in the English fashion into something bright yellow, crumbly and almost cheesy. It’s a good sign when the freebie you eat (on the superlative sourdough, although that could be considered optional if you’re a butter addict like me) while perusing the menu is this delectable. Continue Reading

Review: Claret Free House, Croydon

Beer-loving locals’ haunt that’s unashamedly old-fashioned – and not in a quaint, English Heritage-approved, selfie-stick kind of way. Think 1985 not 1885.

Photo 25-02-2016, 07 58 38 Don’t be misled by the name. This is no wine bar – if you ask for a glass of claret, you’ll be handed a mini-bottle of commercial plonk as if you’re descending into Luton airport. Here, in this unassuming and lo-fi pub in Addiscombe, Croydon, it’s all about the beer. And there’s a lot of it, mostly in my stomach. This is my local, after all.

Guest ales are on constant rotation, unlike the limpet-like regulars stuck to the bar (yeah, okay, me again), who won’t find anywhere else in the area that gives them such a good, cheap pint, homely atmosphere and as many Frazzles as they can guzzle. Continue Reading

The all-day drinker’s guide to… Camberwell


Camberwell, once a rural retreat with a spring sought out by the lame and infirm, still provides plenty of healing liquids in pubs ranging from scruffy working man’s boozers to subterranean cocktail caverns. The parish church in Camberwell is St Giles, the patron saint of cripples and mendicants, and, particularly at the crossroads at Camberwell Green, there’s still an itinerant, derelict air from which the pubs of the area provide welcome relief. Continue Reading

Review: Theo’s Pizzeria, Camberwell SE5


A slice of Naples in Camberwell, dishing up crowd-pleaser pizza at affordable prices – think bufala without the bill.

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Theo’s is a functional-looking but classy Neapolitan-style pizzeria with a light, bright interior, sandwiched between the Hill bakery and the Hermit’s Cave pub on Grove Lane.

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